Read any “What To Do In Vancouver” list and you are likely to see many of the same fantastic attractions and activities pop up time and time again. Favourite spots such as Science World, Stanley Park, and the Vancouver Aquarium form the backbone of family entertainment in the region, but sometimes you want something a bit different.
With that in mind, here are ten excellent places in Vancouver where you and the family can have a terrific time, any day of the week, and because they are on the path that is less well trodden, you won’t be disappearing under a tsunami of other people either.
Locations: Vancouver, 189 Keefer Place, 604-669-5552
New West, 601 Carnarvon Street, 604-553-2232
Cost: Average price $16 per adult $11 per child
Take the family to Pizzeria Ludica and not only can you enjoy excellent pizza, pasta, and a children’s menu, but you can choose any of the board and card games from their extensive collection, to play at your table. Old favourites such as Battleships and Guess Who sit side-by-side with an endless range of games from around the world that you might otherwise never get to experience.
The games have been colour-coded so you can quickly pick something suitable – child-friendly games have a yellow sticker. The warm and friendly staff are on hand to help explain gameplay and rules if needed, and you are welcome to stay for a couple of hours if that’s what you need to finish your game.
Location: “Close to Waterfront Station”
Cost: $28 per person, Children under six years – Free
Take the family for a unique superhero experience and play the “Heros & Villians Family Edition” game with Vancouver Mysteries.
You choose the date and time, book your adventure and meet a Vancouver Mysteries game facilitator at the secret rendezvous spot. Each family member is given a superhero identity, complete with your own unique powers and you must work together, solving puzzles, in order to stop the Muck Monster taking over the city.
Everything you need is provided, groups of 2 or more can play, and you can bring your dog along too.
The Hive Climbing Centre
Location: 520 Industrial Ave, Vancouver
Cost: Drop-In prices: Adults $21 Youth, 13-17 $16 Children 12 and under $11.50
Family membership discount available
Looking for a new activity the entire family can enjoy together? The Hive Climbing Centre is the perfect place for climbers and would-be climbers alike to burn off some energy, make memories, and take the first steps towards what could turn out to be a lifelong passion.
Drop-in sessions for the climbing wall and the boulder area are open to anyone, and the staff is on hand to help you get started. Alternatively, you can sign-up for a two hours beginners session, a little ones and parents group or even one of the “Women In Bouldering” courses.
Old Hastings Mill Store Museum
Location: 1575 Alma Street, Vancouver
Cost: By donation
August Jack Khatsilano’s hand-carved rubber lacrosse ball, is just one of the many items hiding in the Old Hastings Mill Store Museum at the foot of Alma Street. The building was erected in 1865 before Canada was a country, BC was a province or Vancouver was a city and is the only building to survive the Great Fire. Formerly a mill store for the: British Columbia and Vancouver Island Spar, Lumber and Sawmill Company it was built on the south shore of Burrard Inlet and moved, by barge to its current site in 1930.
It is a fascinating place to explore, and it’s packed to the gills with items that will both delight and fascinate your budding historians.
Exit – Candy Coaster
Location: 309 W Broadway, Vancouver, BC
Cost: Adults $23.81 Children $14.29 Kids under 6 – Free
Walk through the door and find yourself in a room full of gigantic candies that would make Willy Wonka proud. You will board the Candy Coaster car but, oh no, before your ride can begin the car breaks down which forces you all to work together, find the clues, and solve the puzzles to escape the room again.
A highly interactive adventure with plenty of hands-on activities, Candy Coaster, is an escape room experience for between two and sin people at a time.
3D glasses enhance the adventure but are entirely optional, and you can get in for free on your birthday.
BC Sports Hall Of Fame
Location: They’re at Gate A, of BC Place Stadium at Robson and Beatty Street Levels.
Cost: Adults $15 Youth (6-17 years), $12, Kids (5 years & under) Free
Or $20 for an All Access Experience Pass
With 11 different galleries focusing on areas of BC sports as diverse as Terry Fox and the 2010 Olympics, an area that lets you look down into BC Place Stadium while discovering plenty about our local sports teams, and a participation hall where you can test your own sporting skills or lack of them, depending on your outlook, The BC Sports Hall Of Fame has plenty to keep you all occupied for the afternoon.
If you book ahead of time, you can buy an All Access Pass and have a behind the scenes tour of BC Place which includes a visit to the locker rooms, the media centre and the opportunity to stand on the pitch.
Point Atkinson Lighthouse & Park
Location: Beacon Lane, West Vancouver
A relatively easy hike from the paved car-park in Beacon Lane will take you out to the viewing area where you can see Point Atkinson Lighthouse and a stunning panoramic view of Burrard Inlet, Vancouver, and beyond. There are plenty of spots to settle down with a picnic, and if you would like a little more adventure, you can try looking for the famous “hidden bunker.”
The lighthouse itself is a National Historic Site and on your way to see it you’ll walk among some stunning old growth forest.
Lynn Canyon Ecology Centre & Suspension Bridge
Location: Peters Road, North Vancouver
Home of North Vancouver’s free to enjoy suspension bridge, Lynn Canyon Park has a host of attractions to keep you and the little ones occupied. The ecology centre has many exhibits of interest as well as a kids area with a puppet theatre, animal sound machines, a giant insect area and a series of discovery drawers crammed full of wondrous items. A unique nature theater and film collection allow you to settle down and watch a movie of your choice from their selection, and if you get peckish, you can walk next door to the cafe.
Beautiful walking trails, the creek rushing through the trees, bridges, waterfalls and picnic spots galore, this really is one of Vancouver’s best-kept secrets.
Location: Six blocks on Main Street, starting at about East 48th Avenue.
While the Punjabi market in Vancouver is smaller than it used to be, with a large number of the retailers having moved to Surrey, there are still plenty of delights to be discovered in what is affectionately known as Little India.
The Palika Gift House and Bazaar is a fantastic and fun place to browse and discover all kinds of children’s items, costume jewelry and wedding accessories with a distinctly South East Asian flavour. Speaking of flavour, you will also want to take a walk around many of the food stores where your kiddos can find all manner of new tasty treats you won’t see anywhere else.
You don’t have to restrict yourself to exploring the stores and soaking up the atmosphere either. As long as you respect the Sikh custom of taking off your shoes and covering your hair with a provided kerchief or headscarf, you are also welcome to enter and explore the Arthur Erickson designed Sikh temple at the foot of Ross Street.
Vancouver Police Museum
Location: 240 East Cordova Street, Vancouver
Cost: Adult $12, Youth (6-18) $8, Children 5 & under Free. Family (2 adults & 2 youth) $30
Not necessarily the first place you might think to take the kids, but The Vancouver Police Museum is a fun way to while away an afternoon, especially if you have a little emergency services fan in the family. Try the criminal artist sketching stations, educational video games, mock crime scenes and history of police in Vancouver exhibits.
Feature photo credit: lynncanyon.ca